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Consume Part II:

IT’S AMAZING WHAT THEY’RE DOING WITH MODERN UPHOLSTERY THESE DAYS

Rose Furniture Upholstery. One of the few things I inherited from my maternal grandfather was this incredibly comfortable old green couch. But after moving to San Francisco, where a Haight Street mouse made a nest in the thing, and then moving back to L.A., the poor old sofa seemed to be headed for scrap. Sagging floorward, pillows flatter than a pancake, full of rodent detritus . . . Grandpa’s couch was doomed. Or not quite. Rose Upholsterers, who saved our other living-room piece from extinction four years ago, came to the rescue. Six weeks later, the beaten down item was re-sprung, re-stuffed and re-upholstered in fantastic green denim. Lying on it is now somewhat like being abed in comfy jeans. "The customer picks out the fabric, and then we go to work," says Vahid Bashash, who for 12 years has been sofa-salvation central. "We never say no." Standing in the Zen-like atmosphere of his shop, you see why Rose’s is beloved by its patrons: These sofas and couches and chairs have been reincarnated by the crew. Rose also custom manufactures furniture to your personal specs. It’s old-world workmanship, the likes of which gets rarer by the day. 6014 Fountain Ave., Hollywood; (213) 463-6766. (Johnny Angel)

BEST BIBLIO TECH

Opamp Technical Bookstore. In business for over 20 years, Opamp is a mecca for geeks of all ages and persuasions; if know-how is your thing, you’ll find yourself well indulged here. With titles ranging from Becoming a Computer Musician to The Death Investigators Handbook , über nerds and technical sissies alike will find something to pique their interests. The staff is friendly, intelligent, helpful and thorough, and not nearly as frightening as the books. These volumes could beat you up. They’re bigger and smarter than you, and they know all about underwater warfare systems and photodiode amplifiers and stuff. Opamp also takes online orders (www.opamp.com), which receive a 5 percent discount. They offer a wide selection of used and out-of-print titles, and a T-shirt with a picture of Bill Gates on it, just to please your inner Urkel. 1033 N. Sycamore Ave.; (213) 464-4322. (Janet Ginsburg)

BEST GUERRILLA GARDENING SUPPLIES FOR THE PRE-HYDROPONIC CROWD

Sunset Nursery. There are, perhaps, better gardening supply stores: Nickerson’s in Culver City, some place I heard about once in the San Gabriel Valley, even the OSH. But an urban gardener has specific needs: convenience, containers, and access to plants no normal person grows under the stairwell and between the cracks in the driveway. Sunset Nursery opens every day in the heart Silver Lake with an inventory that includes scented geraniums, weird herbs and a spectrum of seeds so varied you feel like you’re strolling through the Burpee catalog. They also have oak barrels for sale, which make fine water gardens, and all the materials for that next raised bed you plan to install on the porch. If the store had just a small hydroponic section, it’d be perfect. But perfection isn’t the guerrilla gardener’s objective, and we’re not growing our tomatoes in aquariums until next year. 4368 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (213) 661-1642 . (Judith Lewis)

BEST HOPPY SHOP

Home Beer, Wine and Cheesemaking Shop. Do you love beer? Whether you’re a fan of the currently popular microbrews or favor the bigger corporate breweries, the Home Beer and Wine Making Shop in Woodland Hills has something to suit your taste buds. From the moment you enter the shop, the aroma of fresh hops, malts and yeasts recalls daydreams of being turned loose in your favorite brewery. The expertise of the brewers and connoisseurs here offers years of trial-and-error experience, making it possible to re-create your favorite beers at home with a smaller chance of error. These guys have a great selection of products, including hundreds of seasonings, extracts, chemicals and additives (most of which you’re encouraged to scale yourself) for creating that special flavor, as well as just about every available brewing system you might need, from natural fermentation to gas-injected carbonation. There’s also an extensive selection of brew lit, as well as merchandise and books on making your own wine and cheese, and if that’s not enough to keep your palate busy, you can join the Maltose Falcons, a monthly club offering tastings and discussion with drinkers who seriously appreciate the varied tastes and textures of this refreshing beverage, and have done a mighty fine job of crafting it for over 20 years. So if you’re an old fermenter or a young wort, hop on down sometime, it’s the best malt shop around. 22836 Ventura Blvd., No. 2, Woodland Hills; (800) 559-9922. (Albert Pinkerson)

BEST PLACE TO SMOKE SHEESHA AND DRINK MUD

Cherokee Market and Deli. Also known as El Nile Cafe, this storefront hangout is run by an old Egyptian aud player, Fadi (a.k.a. "Sam"), who’s made lots of records, been in tons of movies and worked with some of the best belly dancers in the Middle East. He makes mudlike Turkish coffee that’s better than crystal meth and stocks a bunch of nargilehs — Egyptian sheesha , or water pipes, filled with honey-soaked tobacco (forget cigars!). Cherokee also serves good Middle Eastern food, rents videos, plays super Middle Eastern music and has live music for free when the older Middle Eastern musicians who hang out there jam with the boulevard-trash rock & roll kids. Only in Hollywood! 6655-10 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; (213) 465-5004. (Pleasant Gehman)

 

BEST COOKBOOKS BY JANET JARVIS, BOOKSELLER

Cookbooks by Janet Jarvis, Bookseller. I found out where old cookbooks go when they die: to this cookbook heaven, the only used/out-of-print cookbook store in the country. With more than 15,000 volumes, cookbook fans like me can whet their appetites browsing through such enticing sections as "Christmas," "Famous Chefs" and "Literary" (example: Pepys at Table , with 17th-century recipes like "Rabbit Argenteuil"). The "Early American and Victorian" section had a wonderful reprint of The American Frugal Housewife from 1836. Among the rare books under glass, I found a 1950 first-edition hardback Betty Crocker picture book for $75 and an original Vincent Price Treasury of Great Recipes for $100, along with kicky matchbooks from Scandia and Perino’s for 50 cents apiece. My favorite old Junior League books were under "Fund-raisers," weighing in with titles like Gator Country Cookbook , with recipes for everything from "Mary Farhma’s Spiced Gooseberries" to "Aunt Annie’s Heavenly Hash." I got lost in the menu bin, rooting through old Lawry’s menus (from an era when a shrimp cocktail went for 30 cents), looking (in vain) for Nickodell’s. Then, the ultimate boomer nostalgia score: Under "Restaurants," next to The Colony Cookbook from 1945, an Alice’s Restaurant Cookbook from 1969 inscribed "To my groovy wife, from your freaky husband, Fred." 321 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank; (818) 848-4630. (Judy Raphael)

BEST FUNKY DIVA SLUT

Funky Diva. We had just gorged on fatty, brunch-type sustenance and were dragging our carcasses down Melrose looking for our car. One of our out-of-town friends wanted to shop. We tried to tell her it was the same stuff she could get on St. Mark’s Place or the Haight, but damn it, she wanted L.A. trash. So we began darting in and out of various "altie-rock" places, when a little store caught our eyes. It had button-down shirts in the window: not preppy, not disco — my god! We dashed in and began to browse. It was a Clockwork Orange kind of vibe without the lighting; the salesgirl glommed onto me like I was the last box of tampons in the only 7-Eleven for 20 miles. I appreciate good service. She helped me try on every piece of clothing in the store, including menswear. She didn’t just go find stuff and bring it to me — no, she took my hand and walked me around the store, caressing various parts of my body as we paused in front of the racks. She dressed and undressed me like a Barbie, and I didn’t complain. I was feeling lightheaded from all the attention. My friends informed me that in the one-minute time span during which Girlie had left me alone to "compose myself" in the dressing room, she had asked my friends what band I was in. They told her the truth, that I was a writer. The strange part was, she didn’t treat me any differently once she knew I wasn’t a rock star. I felt hope flicker inside me — you don’t have to be a rock star to be molested on Melrose. Anybody can get that kind of service and attention at Funky Diva, bastion of equality and sisterhood. 7611 Melrose Ave.; (213) 655-7629. (Natalie Jacobson)

BEST PILES OF SHEETS

McManus and Morgan. In 1923, two UCLA students named John and Elder got together and decided to open a store. Over the years, this store sold art supplies, offered book-binding services and stocked an incredible array of handmade paper. Some 74 years later, the art supplies and book binding are gone, as is much of the arts community that once thrived near the store’s gritty MacArthur Park location. But today McManus and Morgan (John and Elder, respectively) is still the place to find intriguing and aesthetically pleasing parchments. Tie-dyed papers, folded and dyed in kaleidoscopic patterns, hang alongside dark-colored sheets made from the pith of the papyrus plant. There is hand-pounded bark from central Mexico and a range of Nepalese offerings hewn from rice, straw, silk and grass. Less exotic offerings include handmade envelopes, stationery and journals, and an unusual selection of hand-marbled papers. 2506 W. Seventh St.; (213) 387-2717. (Sara Catania)

 

BEST FIVE-COURSE BROWSING

Genede Chene Booksellers. In business for 30 years, Genede Chene Book sellers has particularly large sections devoted to psychology, political science, Russia, Zen and Hinduism, as well as a huge paperback section with an excellent assortment of classics and recent titles. Everything is used, priced very reasonably and laid out chaotically. The manager says that she arranges the paperback literature section like a dinner party — Truman Capote next to Paul Bowles, Virginia Woolf next to Gertrude Stein ("I think they’d get along"), Kate Millet next to Norman Mailer ("for some conflict"). There are cartoons taped up to the bookshelves to correspond with each section. The book buyers’ good taste is evidenced in the window: A Choice Not an Echo by Phyllis Schlafly next to Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist by Alexander Berkman, next to The Naked Communist by W. Cleon Shousen and A Dog’s Book of Bugs by Elizabeth Griffen. 11556 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 477-8734. (Adam Bregman)

BEST BUTCHER SHOP IN A TOURIST ATTRACTION

Huntington Meats. Okay, I realize the category is a fairly narrow one — after all, I don’t think the Magic Kingdom has ever even considered adding "Beefland" to its thriving domain — but the next time you’re introducing an out-of-town guest to the joys of the Farmers Market, be sure and take a moment to check out the goods at Huntington Meats. Alongside the ribs, roasts, steaks and mind-bogglingly large planks of beef jerky sits the city’s finest selection of high-quality sausages: For around $3 to $4 a pound, you can treat yourself to the spicy Cajun Chicken, the spicier Chicken Jezebel, the supremely succulent turkey with sun-dried tomato and basil — all of which work equally well in sauces or on the grill — and all manner of topnotch bangers and wursts (including a downright funky combi-nation of pork and alligator). The Huntington butchers themselves are friendly in a gruff sort of way, and usually more than happy to let you sample some of their freshly cooked wares. With a variety of condiments, rubs and barbecue sauces available on the side table, Huntington Meats has just about everything you need for a satisfying meat-related experience. 6333 W. Third St.; (213) 938-5383 . (Dan Epstein)

A DECORATOR’S WORST NIGHTMARE

Panoptikum. Named after an 1880s European traveling carnival featuring mysteries and oddities, Panoptikum is a sort of Haunted Mansion–meets–Dr. Faust sideshow with an eight-foot Kali holding daggers (and Balinesian witch-doctor masks, and magically dancing demons, and coffins turned into armoires and ’20s velvet parlor couches from funeral homes). The store’s heart is in its hand-wrought-iron chandeliers, lamps, beds and especially one intriguing candelabra fashioned from deer antlers with a red-devil ornament. In the dimly lit Shadow Room, classic horror films play nonstop, and frighteningly real miniatures of the Golem, the Tarot Devil, Nosferatu and Dr. Caligari await their moment of awakening in your hands — or in your nightmares. 5050 Vineland Ave., N. Hollywood; (818) 985-2837. (Judy Raphael)

BEST MEXICAN MOVIE POSTERS

Reign Trading Company. The 1940s were the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, with the films of director Emilio Fernandez, cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa and actress Maria Felix competing at the box office with John Wayne, John Ford and Howard Hawks. Unlike American movie posters, which generally featured one still photo, Mexican studios often produced eight different posters for each film. Reign Trading Company has an amazing collection of these lobby cards in the back of its folk-art store. Owners Angela and Ramon Villalba recently purchased a massive collection of vintage movie memorabilia that includes Jorge Negrete, Cantinflas, Pedro Infante, Pedro Armendarez and Santo the wrestler ( Santo Versus Frankenstein, Santo Versus the Zombies, Santo Versus Villains in the Ring ). They also have American movie cards in Spanish, such as Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe in Almas Perdidas ( River of No Return ), Richard Widmark and Marilyn Monroe in Almas Desperadas ( Don’t Bother to Knock ), and Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift and Marilyn Monroe in Los Inadaptados ( The Misfits ). Plus, there are posters from sci-fi and exploitation films, Japanese monster movies, Disney and Los Hermanos Marx. 13055 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 788-7717 . (Karen Cusolito)

BEST HANGMAN

Ted Gibson’s. At a time when frame-shop owners still regard Patrick Nagel as an important artist, it’s nice to know people like 90-year-old Ted Gibson are still in business. Gibson, who got into the framing business by stretching canvas for Georgia O’Keeffe in the late ’20s, runs the oldest frame shop in L.A. In addition to selling or handcrafting every type of frame imaginable, the store also specializes in restoration of old frames and original works of art. 2866 W. Seventh St.; (213) 382-9195. (Joe Sehee)

 

SMILE — YOU’RE ON AURA CAMERA

Inner Space. Promoting a concept called E.Q. ("emotional intelligence"), the multimedia retail experience known as Inner Space meshes technology with New Age psychology in a serene environment. Showcasing products designed to develop and stimulate the "inner self," the store offers merchandise to soothe every sense, from music, aroma and color therapy to fun educational books and games about astrology and self-discovery. But what really sets the store apart from others of its kind are the interactive attractions. If you know your exact time of birth, the computer can print out a detailed astrological chart covering your characteristics, how you’re perceived by the people around you and much more. Ever wonder what your aura looks like? You can not only see it, but carry a photo of it in your wallet, thanks to their special "aura camera," which measures the origin, intensity and frequency of the electrical field between your hands. And if you really want an intoxicating experience unlike any other (short of a drug trip), you must try their relaxing yet uplifting virtual ride, where you lie on a sound-conducting mattress, don a pair of special light-emanating glasses and wear headphones playing a hypnotic selection of electronic music. The 15-minute "ride" lets your mind go free, and many report seeing intensely colorful graphic images and patterns, while others go into a state of intense, near-meditative relaxation. You can even buy a take-home version that can be hooked up to your computer and programmed to relieve everything from insomnia to writer’s block. 1225 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; (310) 264-1843. (Lina Lecaro)

SCRUB YER FRINGE THERE, SPORT?

Weldon Brothers. If you place an area rug on the floor where it belongs, it’s bound to get dirty. But it isn’t the red wine on the kilim that’s the real problem — it’s the cherry Kool-Aid on the Chinese Deco. Sugary stuff seeps into a rug’s core and, even after cleaning, acts like a magnet to dirt. Ask any carpet dealer on La Cienega where to have precious area rugs cleaned, and he’ll tell you Weldon Brothers in Santa Monica, since 1937. Weldon offers free on-site estimates, pick-up and delivery to anywhere in L.A. County, and provides a written guarantee. A $5 rug from Kmart is cleaned with the same skill and care as a two-inch thick, $20,000 Moroccan woven. Weldon wants to remind you that next time a kid spills strawberry Jell-O on that $300 Canadian rag, " Act quickly! The longer a spot or stain remains in the carpet, the harder it is to get out." So before you murder the kid, carefully pick up as much solid material as you can and blot the stain with a clean white towel. "Don’t rub," whatever you do. Call 1-800-Spot-Help for a 24-hour recording of spot-removal advice. And don’t panic: Weldon offers emergency service. 1223 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 451-4871. (Pamela Klein)

BEST OCCULT 7-ELEVEN

Nina Religion. Between a boarded-up storefront and a zapateria in Mid-City lies, unobtrusively, the king of botanicas — a store for those hard-to-find herbs, spell books and cauldrons. For practitioners of the Afro-Cuban religions of Santería and Palo Mayombe, brought over from the Yoruba of Western Africa and from the Congo, it’s one-stop shopping. For Santeros, there’s everything from statues of the orishas (i.e., deities) — in the form of their Catholic alter egos, of course (Santa Barbara for Chango, etc.) — to waters, perfumes, oils, candles for love, for money, for good luck, for protection from death, from the police, from creditors. And for Paleros, essential material about which the less said, the better. 2506 Pico Blvd.; (213) 382-3414 . (Ron Rico)

BEST OLD TOME HOME

National Charity League Ticktocker Thrift Shop. In the heart of Culver City’s refurbished, ultranifty downtown is this fine thrift store, which keeps getting groovier and groovier with each visit. The book and periodical section has a good political-science collection and shelves dedicated to travel, cookbooks, self-help and loads more. I scored The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul and The Red and the Black by Stendhal for 25 cents each. The hardbacks are a buck and up, and magazines are mostly 15 cents. The last time I was there, the back room had some beat-up furniture and somebody’s hideous attempt at van Gogh’s Sunflowers for $35, overlooking a pink dirt bike that said "So Hot." Once, somebody unwittingly let go of their collection of old exotica records here, and they were scooped up quickly at $1 a pop. 9441 Culver Blvd., Culver City; (310) 559-8338 . (Adam Bregman)

DINOSAURS JR.

Living Environments Northwest. No Siamese cats at this pet shop. Only pythons, tarantulas and the like, living in custom-made habitats. Since the place opened in October 1995, manager Daniel Ross has kept an average of about 25 creatures on-site, most of them less than a year old. "We try to get them while they’re still young enough to train," Ross says. Members of the lizard kingdom, from geckos and chameleons to anoles and agamas, sell for less than $10 and upward of $200. Ross’ Burmese pythons — which can sometimes cost thousands — sell for between $200 and $600. 7257 Melrose Ave.; (213) 938-5666 . (Jason Dean)

 

TELL YOU WHAT: YOU STOP ACTING SO PARANOID, AND WE’LL STOP FOLLOWING YOU AROUND

Atlantis Books. There used to be a banner in front of Atlantis Books in Burbank that read "UFO BOOKS." And then, sometime around the anniversary of the Roswell crash, that banner disappeared. Conspiracy? You KNOW it is! Or at least you will after spending an hour or so in Atlantis. Gotta be those Masonic trilateralist puppeteers controlling everything down to the color of your socks! Or is it the Zeta-reticulan Pentagon alliance? Whatever color your paranoia, you’ll find the entire rainbow here, along with plenty of less alarmist, and even scholarly, works on history, alternative politics, the Cold War, government misdeeds, sins of the military-industrial complex, crimes of the church, of the cults, and just plain ol’ crimes. Paul Hunt, proprietor and bookseller, has been tangled up in this stuff for a few decades himself, having spent much of the ’70s muckraking for local undergrounds such as the L.A. Free Press . About 90 percent of the books are used, with most of the new titles from small or obscure publishers and sources. And almost nothing here is carried by the chains. Why? Chains? Chains? Why do you think they call them chains, man . . .? 144 S. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank; (818) 845-6467. (Reverend Al Cacophony)

BEST SOFT PRECIOUS THINGS

This Little Piggy Wears Cotton. High-quality merchandise, much of it imported, puts This Little Piggy Wears Cotton in the Bourgeois Piglet category of kids’ wear, but so what? And who really wants to put another penny into Uncle Walt’s pocket? Opened in March, this one-stop shop for kids’ clothing, toys and furniture has an appealing sense of humor without the Disneyfied look of other children’s stores. Although most merchandise is geared toward discriminating shoppers under 12, This Little Piggy Wears Cotton has great buys for Mom and Dad, as well. Natural fabrics in the latest styles are especially comforting to soft, newborn skin. Furnishings include both antique and modern, and the toy selection covers the nostalgic (wooden pull-toys) and the futuristic (an otherworldly sci-fi tricycle). Beverly Center, 8500 Beverly Blvd., Suite 692; (310) 659-5935 . (Sandra Ross)

UNCLE SAM’S GOING-OUT-OF-BUSINESS SALE

Supply Sergeant. Maybe I’ve watched Pulp Fiction one too many times, but I’d say there’s a good chance there’s a gimp in bondage somewhere in the basement of the Supply Sergeant in Burbank. If nothing else, I’m sure there’s some pro–Ruby Ridge literature lurking somewhere. It just has that vibe, you know? Nevertheless, they still have everything you’d ever want for The Outdoor Experience, be it the Saturday hike in Griffith Park, a backpacking trip in the Sierras or a secession from the union somewhere in northern Idaho. But wait, there’s more. You know you’ve always needed a Ricky Ricardo dress shirt, a ’68 Chevelle belt buckle, pepper spray, a hip flask, a 10-foot-tall missile (authentic, we presume), an Elmer Fudd hunting cap, a U.S. Marines flag and everything imaginable in camouflage. Even if you’re strapped for cash, just roaming the aisles is a pretty good way to pass an afternoon in a curious, sociological sort of way. Just be cool (don’t go yelling "incoming"; that might not go over too well), tuck in your horns and keep the following items under wraps: ACLU card, "Draft Beer, Not Men" book bag, "Hillary Rules!" T-shirt, "Hikers for Choice" pin and, oh yeah, your "Hawaiians for Same Sex Marriages" baseball cap. 503 N. Victory Blvd., Burbank; (818) 845-9433 . (Neal Weiss)

BEST HOT ROD SALON

Mooneyes Retail Store. Before Ed "Big Daddy" Roth moved to Utah to become a Mormon, before George Barris sent the Batmobile to Gatlinburg, L.A. was a pantheon of the oft-maligned sport of hot rodding, and enthusiasts stocked up at "Moon." Customers still roll in for chromed Hemi block covers, but more often these days for the complete line of Ratfink, Mr. Horsepower and Mooneyes products; for the giant 8-ball gear shifts, the footprint gas pedal and the Satan back-up lights. 10820 S. Norwalk Blvd., Santa Fe Springs; (562) 944-6311. (Chris Nichols)

EXCUSE ME, BUT I’VE LOST MY RINGO. MIND BENDING OVER?

Record Rover. Don’t expect the snotty attitudes often found at the allegedly cooler stores across town. At Record Rover in Mar Vista, the staff is friendly, and the store has a warm, inviting feel to it. Looking for something the other stores are too busy to hunt down? Ask Paul, Graeme, Steve, Alex and the rest — they know their shit, and they’ll answer any and all questions you have, no matter how long it takes. Try getting that kind of service out in the 213 area code. Need some 45s? Some Joe Tex or R.B Greaves to round out the collection? Tony Joe White’s "Polk Salad Annie"? You’ve come to the right place; the Rover’s selection of 45s is unrivaled in L.A. The walls are decorated with about a bazillion rare and out-of-print records, all reasonably priced. Record Rover also buys used CDs and vinyl. And there’s Beatles stuff up the ass. 12204 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista; (310) 390-3132. (Chris Checkman)

 

BEST MYSTERY BINS

Canterbury’s. Canterbury’s old records are cheap enough to make reconnecting that closeted turntable cost-effective. While it offers a great CD selection and quality vinyl in the Record Collector’s price categories, what you really come here for are the unpredictable bins of used LPs at 25 cents and up, everything from 1955 Mighty Wurlitzer "hi-fi spectaculars" to Doobie Bros. anthologies to Schoenberg quartets. At these prices, you can buy all the records a normal person can carry for $10. And I once got a discount for naming the store clerk’s dog. 805 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 792-7184 . (Marc B. Haefele)

YOUR HIP PARADE

Atomic Records. Atomic Records has emerged as one of L.A.’s hottest spots for rare records. Brothers Rick and Steve Alper, along with soul-record hound Kenn Norman, serve those hungry for vinyl by traveling around the world searching for vintage jazz, soul, rock, exotica, Latin, reggae, funk and soundtracks. Though you may find Atomic a bit pricey, remember that near-mint copies of Multiplication Rock , or Sun Ra’s My Brother the Wind on Violence Records, are more than a little hard to come by. If there’s a title you’ve been searching for, chances are Atomic has it . . . or will hunt it down for you. 3818 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; (818) 848-7090. (Carlos Niño)

BEST BLOCKBUSTER BUSTER

Benway Records. Aron’s Records won’t let their new employees have facial piercings and has as many disgruntled ex-employees as the post office. Forget Rockaway Records, which is overpriced and has a mostly shitty selection. The Virgin Megastore and Blockbuster Music are only good for looting during riots. Generally, Orange County has a better selection of record stores than L.A. But with No Life and Headline opening two years ago, and now the superfriendly Benway Records, L.A. finally has some record stores that support the music scene rather than just profit from it. Benway has a lot of independent-label stuff, new and used, and no shortage of vinyl. There’s a particularly excellent selection of old used jazz on vinyl, though that stuff ain’t cheap. There’s a wall full of used cassettes, bins filled with used CDs, and T-shirts, stickers and posters for the kids. Benway Records is the kind of place you want to support, because if you don’t, Blockbuster Inc. will end up owning the whole country. 1600 Pacific Ave., Venice; (310) 396-8898. (Adam Bregman)

BEST SCROUNGE FOR DISC JUNKIES

Pasadena City College Flea Market. Even without its incredible music section, the Pasadena City College Flea Market is one of the coolest ways to kill a Sunday. Antique furniture, clothes, sports and movie memorabilia (and too much more to mention) abound. But it is the aforementioned music selection that sets the PCC meet apart. New and used CDs and vinyl are priced to move — and not just crap like Dan Fogelberg and Robbie Dupree, either. We’re talking about the good stuff: rare old blues, jazz and gospel LPs, 45s and 78s; reissues and current-release CDs at very competitive prices. And don’t forget the really wild stuff. Need a copy of the Beatles’ infamous Butcher cover? How about a still-sealed copy of a first-pressing Billie Holiday LP? You can find all this and more at this haven for music junkies on the first Sunday of the month. Rare isn’t even the word to use for some of this stuff, if you know what I mean. If you do, chances are you’re already a regular. But keep it to yourself — cuts down on the riffraff. 1570 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 585-7906. (Chris Checkman)

STILL THE BEST CLASSICAL & JAZZ ON VINYL

The Record Collector. It isn’t cheap. But it has almost any recorded rarity you might be looking for — as long as it’s jazz or classical and comes on vinyl. Owner Sanders Chase also provides an ongoing colloquium on the sonic, aesthetic and, yes, spiritual superiority of the 40-year pre-CD era of turntable-and-vacuum-tube audio. 1158 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; (213) 467-2875 . (Marc B. Haefele)

 

UNCLE TIM’S AMAZING CAVERN

Scooter’s Records. KXLU listeners know Tim McDermott as Uncle Tim, host of The Bomb Shelter on Friday nights. The shelves of his bitchen new record emporium reflect his radio programming, with plenty of vintage ska and rock-steady, a slew of the greasiest R&B and blues stirred in to taste, and a couple of generations’ worth of punk. He’s managed to pack an astonishing variety of LPs and CDs into the cavelike space housing Scooter’s — now 10 months old and going strong — where André Williams competes with the Bomboras on the house system, and a poster of Raw Power –era Iggy bestows mute benediction on the proceedings. An average day will find graying vinyl purists elbow-to-elbow with skate punks; the latter, as Uncle Tim tells it, "would never go near the blues section, but love the fact that I carry every Dischord record ever made." 200 Pier Ave., Suite No. 1, Hermosa Beach; (310) 372-1666 . (Richard Henderson)

BEST COMIC *!@#*% STORE

Another World. The mural painted to look like a Buck Rogers–era spaceship ready to rocket to the Red Planet is your first tip-off that this small 21-year-old comic store champions another time and place, when people bought comics for personal pleasure instead of as multicolored stock commodities. Owners Mary Anne and Bob Costa’s extensive warehouse of Golden Age and Silver Age oldies is worth the trip alone; but your visit won’t be complete without striking up a conversation with Bob or Mary Anne about an old comic-book storyline, life on Mars (the Today show interviewed Bob last year after evidence of possible Martian life was discovered) or the current state of the comic-book industry. 1615 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; (213) 257-7757 . (Ian Chaffee)

BEST WITCH HUT

Raven’s Flight. Suppose you’re wiccan (sort of a nice, pre-Christian witch — you know, dancing under the moon, talking to ancient trees and stuff; no animal sacrifices, though you can cast spells on ’em) and you’re out of potions to brew, or you’re just sick of those lonely Saturday nights invoking the same old spirits. This new store, housed in the most darling little ivy-and-spider-web covered Hansel-and-Gretel cottage, is here to "serve the pagan/wiccan community" with in-house events such as "Full Moon Goddess Rites" (potluck), pagan networking and workshops for making, say, ritual masks. Inside, there’s a virtual witches’ brew (sorry) of tasteful gifts: sticks and rocks (for wands and divination), herbs, resins, oils, lovely Celtic jewelry and woven throws (for those freezing ancient European nights around the stone circles?), some really nice gargoyles; books on high priestessing, shaman-ing and every guide a girl could want on gettin’ cookin’ with the coven, from A Witch’s Kitchen Cookbook to Witchcraft Today and even Wiccacraft for Families . And, of course, crone staffs hand-carved by a local pagan. 5042 Vineland Ave., N. Hollywood; (818) 985-2944. (Judy Raphael)


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